Already have an account?
Get back to the

How a Young Jennifer Lopez Made Her Mark on the Entertainment World

Find out how the actress and singer made her way in the industry

This Brooklyn-born actress, singer and dancer has given more to the world of entertainment than many artists. Known by her nickname J.Lo, Jennifer Lopez started following her dreams at age 5, when she began dancing and vocal lessons.

With the hope of becoming a multi-talented artist, Lopez worked her way up to being a world-renowned entertainer, starring in major blockbusters and releasing music that made everyone get up and dance.  

MUST-READ: Kirstie Alley Young: Take a Look Back at the Career of the ‘Cheers’ Actress

Jennifer Lopez young gets her start in the industry

dancers posed on stage
Jennifer Lopez in In Living Color (1992)

At only 16, Lopez made her film debut in My Little Girl (1986), though her first major project was the 1991 television series In Living Color. The actress was featured as a fly girl in 62 episodes of the show. Although her impressive audition for the series didn’t initially win her a spot, a year later, Lopez booked the role.

After her stint on In Living Color, acting offers for Lopez came pouring in. She received notable recognition for her part in 1995’s Money Train and soon was cast as the late singer Selena Quintanilla in Selena (1997), which, as she recalled, brought her “a new level of fame.

MUST-READ: 10 Best Nicole Kidman Movies, Ranked: Our Favorite Films Starring the Aussie Actress

woman singing on stage wearing sparkles; jennifer lopez young
Jennifer Lopez in ‘Selena’ (1997)

Not only did her famous role receive a Golden Globe nomination, but Lopez became the first Latina actress to earn $1 million for her role. The actress shared in an Instagram post, “This movie means so much to me … Selena and her family mean so much to me, and I was so lucky to be chosen to play her. I’ll never forget this time in my life and it’s an honor as an artist to have been part of the magic that is this movie.”

Lopez ventures into music

While continuing to act in major movie roles like Anaconda (1997) and Out of Sight (1998), Lopez released her debut album, On the 6, in 1999. The record contained the hits “Let’s Get Loud” and “Waiting for Tonight.”

young woman singing
Jennifer Lopez (2001)Getty

In 2001, she offered her musical follow-up, J.Lo, which ultimately gave her the iconic nickname, which has followed her ever since. The rest, of course, is history.

While continuing to release new music, J.Lo began to dip her foot into the pool of rom-coms. The actress starred alongside Matthew McConaughey in The Wedding Planner (2001), as well as Maid in Manhattan (2002), Jersey Girl (2004) and Monster-In-Law (2005).

MUST-READ: 10 Matthew McConaughey Movies That Are Alright, Alright, Alright!

Jennifer Lopez young personal life

man and woman smiling; jennifer lopez young
Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony (2006)Getty

Lopez was also in the spotlight for her marriages that played out while she maintained her career. The star was married to Ojani Noa from 1997 to 1998 and Chris Judd from 2001 to 2003. She was also briefly engaged to current husband, Ben Affleck, from 2002 until 2004.

Later that year, Lopez married American singer, Marc Anthony, with whom she shares twin children, Emme and Max.

Jennifer Lopez recently

woman smiling; jennifer lopez young
Jennifer Lopez (2017)Getty

Lopez continued to be a multi-talented entertainer by releasing albums, starring in movies and being a loving mother to her children. The actress booked roles in The Back-up Plan (2010), What to Expect When You’re Expecting (2012) and The Boy Next Door (2015).

In 2016, Lopez landed the lead of her own series, Shades of Blue — alongside the late Ray Liotta — in which she portrayed police officer Harlee Santos. Additionally, Lopez was credited as an executive producer on the series The Fosters for the entirety of its run.

woman holding gun and badge
Jennifer Lopez in Shades of Blue (2016)

Of taking on the project Lopez shared, “When I was growing up, the families around me were not reflected in television or film. I wanted to be part of The Fosters because of the show’s depiction of a diverse society.”

Most recently, she starred in Second Act (2018), Hustlers (2019) and Atlas (2024). As noted, she is currently married to Ben Affleck.

Use left and right arrow keys to navigate between menu items. Use right arrow key to move into submenus. Use escape to exit the menu. Use up and down arrow keys to explore. Use left arrow key to move back to the parent list.